Decision support tools permit decision makers to
efficiently analyze and process large amounts of data required for decision
making. Modern tools are computer based with interactive access to large
database systems and allow for extracting, analyzing and presenting
information from the databases in a useful format (see Appendix F.1.3
. - Database Management
Systems). Decision support tools are used as an aid to the decision makers by
extending their intuitive capabilities; the tools are not meant to replace the
decision-makers' judgement or expertise.
With regard to producibility efforts, decision support
tools can facilitate the acquisition of pertinent information from producibility
databases. Although they can be employed in many of the steps to producibility,
they are perhaps most useful in assessing process capabilities to address
specific manufacturing needs. Processing and assembly information that has been
entered into relational and other databases during the manufacture of various
products can be of great use in assessing the ability to manufacture new
products. However, if the databases contain a lot of information, it becomes
economically difficult to sort through the information and identify all
information needed. A decision support tool can assist in the effort.
There are three basic types of decision support tools:
(1) query and reporting; (2) on-line analytical processing; and (3) enterprise
reporting. Query and reporting is an outgrowth of managing relational databases.
It resulted from the need to sort large amounts of data. On-line analytical
processing is an outgrowth of the management need for simple, high-level,
graphical views of enterprise-level data. Typically, these tools provide instant
red-flags for "out-of-spec" results. They allow the user to access detailed data
from the top down but do not have query and reporting capabilities.
Enterprise-reporting tools are an attempt to provide a single tool for the
entire enterprise. They provide electronic reporting of data in the form of
pre-defined reports that satisfy a wide range of corporate needs but do not
provide for new queries or for the analysis and reporting of data other than in
the pre-defined reports. The next generation of decision support tools are
analytical reporting tools which include the ability to conduct interactive
analysis on a report, thereby allowing new searches to be initiated, new reports
to be formatted, and new as well as old data to be analyzed as the user
It should be noted that not all decision support tools
will work on all databases, nor are all the tools capable of all types of data
retrieval and analysis. Vendors of decision support tools can provide
information on what their tools can accomplish and on what databases they can be
utilized. They can also provide instruction in the application of the tools.
Consultants are available to both advise on the applicable tools and conduct any
required data searches and analyses.
Business Objects of America. 2870 Zanker Road, San Jose, CA 95134. Telephone (408) 953-6000, (800) 527-0580, Fax (408) 953-6001.
Parasei, H. R., & Kolli, S. (1995). Manufacturing Decision Support Systems. Chapman & Hall.
Stahre, J., & Johansson, A. (1994). Decision Support for Flexible Manufacturing. Fourth International Conference on Human Aspects of Advanced Manufacturing and Hybrid Automation. Manchester: IOS Press.
Stahre, J., & Johansson, A. (1994). Albert - A Decision Support Tool for Operators in Manufacturing Systems. Fourth International Conference on Human Aspects of Advanced Manufacturing and Hybrid Automation. Manchester: IOS